Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail: A Bikepacking Weekend!

After a successful (and super fun!) first adventure bikepacking from Wangaratta to Bright on the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail, it was time to hit the road again with another easy bikepacking trip.

After a little thought, we realised that there was a weekend-worthy rail trail even closer (and easier) to access than Wang from Melbourne’s CBD: Lilydale to Warburton!

We’ve visited Warburton countless times in the past and love it (including a stay at the olde-world Warburton Lodge Motel). But cycling the area and staying in a campground for the night was going to bring us a whole new perspective on this familiar forested mountain town.

So dusting off the panniers, we set out on the bikes to Richmond Station on a sunny Saturday morning, to catch the train for a 40km ride along the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail!

Here’s a little account of how it went.


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The Train to Lilydale

The awesome thing about most public transport in Victoria is that bikes can be brought onto Metro Trains for free. However, you just can’t board the first carriage which is for mobility impaired customers.

As we went on the weekend, the train was empty with only a few other people in the carriage, making it a nice smooth start to the weekend.

We always carry some Voile straps whilst with the bikes (which we use for skis too). They’re amazing grippy rubber lashing straps for securing bikes together on trains or buses, and generally as a handy failsafe in the event of bags breaking or having to tie anything together. And we used them almost right away on this trip to secure the bikes in position so we could sit back and relax.

After just shy of an hour and a half on the train, we arrived at Lilydale. Now to try and find the start of the rail trail!

Joining the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail

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We’d read some information about the rail trail being a little hard to find/navigate in the centre of Lilydale. Despite feeling pretty confident beforehand, we found that also to be the case on the day!

Leaving the train station, we navigated up John Street and through the Lilydale Lake Park towards Queen Street, to the north of the park.

It probably wasn’t the most direct way, but as I say, signage in Lilydale was poor, and so we headed in the general direction until we found an entrance to the rail trail where Alfred and Burton Road met.

Hooking a right onto the rail trail, we set off through the shaded pine tree lined avenue of the rail trail. 

I instantly noticed that the terrain was gravel on the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail unlike our Wangaratta to Bright Rail Trail trip, which was mainly tarmac.

Considering I have a road bike with 25mm tires, I could only hope that they’d hold up (and fortunately they did!).

Getting some Fuel in the Tank at Mount Evelyn

After about five kilometres, we reached the town of Mount Evelyn. We stopped at the Billy Goat Hill Brasserie for a coffee and shared a cake to fuel us for the morning.

It was yum, but a couple of kilometres further along the rail trail we noticed the very cute Trail Cafe. In hindsight, that would have been a much more appropriate place to have had our coffee! Next time, we’ll pop here instead.

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From the cafe, we whizzed down a slight descent underneath towering trees and lush ferns.

After around 20 minutes we approached Wandin where the rotary club had built a shelter containing a little library and a fountain, ideal for filling up a water bottle.

Woori Yallock & Yarra Junction

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Just after passing the vineyards owned by Thousand Candles Wines, the scenery around Killara and into Woori Yallock started to become increasingly more beautiful. The lush Warramate Hills and Yarra Ranges offered a consistently stunning view to our left.

We also passed over pretty reserves and slow-flowing sections of the river that brimmed with lily pads, on the wooden Woori Yallock Creek Rail Trail Bridges.

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There are toilets at Woori Yallock, just across the road at Symes Road Park which are some of the more accessible ones on the first half of the rail trail.

The attractive views continued as we navigated through Launching Place, carefully crossing the Warburton Highway, and into Yarra Junction.

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At Yarra Junction the scenery suddenly became urban again as we passed large commercial buildings and recreation centres.

There were however some historic-looking buildings, like the Railway Goods Shed, part of the Upper Yarra Museum (sadly closed at the time of riding by). 

The urban section through Yarra Junction was short though. After a few kilometres of riding on the rail trail beside the noisy Warburton Highway, we split away back into the peacefulness of the countryside for a while.

Millgrove to Warburton

Heading north east, our next thru-town was Millgrove. There were some great facilities here too, with sheltered benches, water refill points and public toilets next to the Millgrove ANZAC Memorial.

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From Millgrove, we knew there was just under 5km to go, which would take another 20 minutes or so, so we took our time cruising along, enjoying the sights and sounds on such a gloriously sunny day.

Before we knew it, we rolled past the Warburton Bushland Reserve, past the Cog Bikes bike shed and into Warburton.

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We rode towards Brisbane Bridge and pulled up at a scenic spot along the Yarra River, hungry and very ready to dig into our sandwiches stuffed into our jerseys!

Overall, it took us 2 hours and 20 minutes of riding time to go from Lilydale to Warburton on the rail trail (not accounting for stops), averaging a cruisey speed of around 17 km/hour.

That means we now had all afternoon to set up the tent, relax and enjoy a wander around town. 

Setting up Camp for the Night in Warburton

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After lunch beside the river, we carried on east along the main road, and soon rolled into the Warburton Holiday Park where we’d booked to pitch for the night.

The accommodation was absolutely heaving with families, I guess because of its prime location next to Warburton Water World. It did make us wonder whether we’d made the right decision!

Our tent spot was pretty exposed considering the heat and the ground was solid as anything, but otherwise we had an enjoyable stay. The facilities were pretty good. The kitchen was spacious and well equipped for what we required and the bathrooms clean and modern. It was nice to be a little out of town too.

Instead of camping, there is also the option to stay somewhere a little luxe, like this private retreat with a hot tub, or a quirky cabin cottage in the forest! We’ll probably do something like this next time, or if we go with friends. 

Day Two – The Return

Day two was another cracking day, but due to be quite hot, so we were up and packed pretty early. Today was simply a case of going back the way we came. 

In all honesty, I didn’t think it would be all that interesting considering we saw it all the previous day. 

But I was totally wrong! 

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I noticed so many things I had missed on the way. For example, an interesting art installation behind a house in Warburton –  a dressed up mannequin performing with a guitar on a stage, against a backdrop of shimmering CDs! Also, camels!

Spontaneous Winery Visit

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Today I had decided to mix things up a bit and added in a cheeky little secret detour to a winery.

Unfortunately, what looked like a quick 15 minute detour around Seville East up Sunnyside Road on Google Maps, actually ended up being a much longer slog up a 12% gradient hill. Note to self: check the elevation gain next time!!

I’m the first to admit I am a terrible hill climber on the bike, and so it was touch and go as to whether I was even going to get up the hill, let alone without stopping. Finally, exhausted and roasting hot, we rolled into Killara Estate as their first customers of the day. 

Pretty sure it was the thought of wine that pushed me through the pain.

They were busy prepping for a booked-out lunch service so we had to wait a while. It didn’t end up being a bad thing considering we could catch our breath, rehydrate and enjoy the gorgeous vineyard views. 

Soon the lovely and chatty Kev hosted us for a tasting of a selection of eight wines. Very much the reward I needed after the pain of getting there!

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Afterwards, with a bottle of Nebiolo wedged in the water holder on my bike and a last farewell of the rolling hills of vines, we headed back down Sunnyside Road.

This time of course it was much more fun than the journey up!

… And Another

With a wine buzz on, we decided perhaps we could fit in another detour..

Just behind the Carriage Cafe in Seville (which by the way, kids would absolutely love!), we followed a path and popped out at the road. We headed up the hill and then crossed over the main road to our second winery in the centre of Seville, Whispering Hills.

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The wine here was much more to our taste so we ended up buying quite a few bottles (voile straps came in handy yet again!).

However the service at Whispering Hills wasn’t great. They didn’t tell us about the wines and were a little reluctant to answer our questions. So it did put a very mild damper on the end of the trip. But at least the wine was good I guess!

Ending the Day

Now well and truly boozed up, we jumped back onto the Warburton to Lilydale rail trail for the last 14km, an hour or so ride back.

Approaching Lilydale, we cruised right to the door of Cold Rock Ice Creamery. Calories when you’re on the bike don’t count, right?

Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail FAQs:

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How long does it take to cycle from Lilydale to Warburton on the rail trail?

It takes most people 2.5 – 3 hours to cycle one way along the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail. However, you should also add on extra time to account for breaks and stopping at points of interest.

Are there any bike hire services available near the rail trail?

Yes, there are bike hire services available in both Lilydale and Warburton, like Ride Time Yarra Valley. So if you don’t own a bike or didn’t bring one with you, you can still enjoy the trail.

Is the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail suitable for children or beginners?

Yes, the rail trail is generally flat and well-maintained, making it suitable for riders of all levels, including older children and beginners. Most sections have a gravel surface, so a gravel bike is best. Electric bikes are also popular.

Are there rest areas or picnic spots along the trail?

Yes, there are several rest areas, picnic spots, water points, toilets and shelters along the Warburton Rail trail where you can take a break and enjoy the surroundings.

Can you cycle out and back on the Lilydale to Warburton rail trail in a day?

Yes, it’s possible to ride the length of the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail and back again in a day. However, the rail trail is 40 km long one way, and so you should only cycle 80km in a day if you are an experienced cyclist with a good level of fitness.

It is more common to just do a section, or split the rail trail over a weekend (40 km each day) with a night spent at one end.

Heading to Victoria soon? Don’t forget these essentials!

Flights: compare and search for the cheapest flights using Skyscanner

Accommodation: hotels to hostels, glamping to apartments, I always use

Tours: to find the best group tours and activities worldwide (with up to 20% off), use Viator

Guide books: Lonely Planet’s guide to Australia or Lonely Planet’s guide to Melbourne and Victoria

Visa: don’t forget to check the entry requirements for the passport you are travelling with

Inspiration: to kick-start your next adventure, how about Lonely Planet’s Guide to the World?

2 thoughts on “Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail: A Bikepacking Weekend!”

  1. I’ve never taken my bike to the mountains or to a winery and both sound like a fun adventure filled with lots of cardio. Great tip to check the elevation gain when planning to go from A to B. I’ve never considered that!

  2. Bike packing is a great way to travel. This looks like a wonderful route with many interesting spots along the way for stops.


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